Help desk or first level support is the department in a company responsible for providing help and advice on topics relating to the company’s products and services. They are most often found in IT and computer science related industries. They provide support by phone, e-mail or via an internal ticket system. Learn more about the role, tasks and how to become a help desk technician!
What is help desk or first level support?
Picture this: Your brand new laptop starts acting up. What do you do? Our first instinct is to immediately call up the laptop manufacturing company to find out what the issue is what can be done to resolve it.
You find the support number and hit dial. This is the basic help desk support. Help desk support refers to the process of providing information and support relating to company information as well as information regarding the products and services of the organization to the end-users/customers. It’s also frequent to find internal help desk support to answer technical questions within the company.
Help desk support is therefore also known as level 1 support, 1st level support or first level support.
It is provided by any organization to external clients and may be maintained by the organization itself or may even be outsourced to external service providers.
What are the responsibilities of a first level support specialist?
When a first-level supporter is contacted, they first collect customer data such as name and contact. They also collect information regarding the customer query or concern and create a ticket/support entry.
This documentation should be as detailed as possible in order to ensure the best possible service to the customer and a smooth transfer of the inquiry to the next support level if needed
First level support may be able to resolve a customer concern or issue on their own. This can be done either through their own knowledge or by consulting external databases. Often the answers are gathered in a FAQ manual.
Larger help desks will have further levels of support to manage more complex questions. As soon as a customer inquiry exceeds the level of knowledge or the technical scope of the current level support, the concern is forwarded to the next level. This means that if the first level support technician is unable to resolve the issue and require more support, they can seek further advice in the second level support.
Furthermore, first-level support is responsible for providing accurate and up to date information regarding company products and services. They also record events and problems and their resolution in logs.
In the case of extended queries, they also follow-up and update customer status and information, and pass on any feedback or suggestions by customers to the appropriate internal team.
What are the daily tasks and responsibilities of help desk support?
- Take on initial telephone or email inquiries from clients
- Logging call / email activity
- Manage help desk software or ticket system
- Troubleshooting and managing simple software, hardware or network issues
- Provide help regarding the company product or services
- Stay up-to-date with updates, changes within the company
- Research questions on available resources (FAQ manual)
- Delegate difficult problems to the second level support
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Skills of a help desk supporter
Since the role of a help desk agent is one that involves direct contact with customers, it is essential to be able to connect with people, understand their issue, query or concern, and be able to provide clear solutions.
It takes a certain mix of soft and technical skills, character, and values to make for an excellent career in help desk and/or support.
Important skills for help desk support specialists include:
- Excellent communication skills
- Troubleshooting and problem-solving
- Ability to explain technical information clearly
- Ability to prioritize and multitask efficiently
- Knowledge of call tracking applications
- Collaborative team spirit
- Analytical and process-oriented approach
- Ability to learn new software and hardware
- Attention to detail and organizational skills
- Ability to perform diagnostic tests
- Ability to create case notes and error logs
- Good identifying process improvements
How do you become a first level support technician?
Candidates in the field have generally completed training in the IT field – for example, a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, IT, Engineering, or Technology is a common requirement.
In addition to the technical requirements, you should also feel comfortable in the field of customer care and possibly have several years of professional experience in this area.
It is also important that a first level support is committed to expanding his or her knowledge through continued training, courses, or certifications. Nothing is as fast-paced as the computer industry. New systems constantly bring with them new issues – and these require new solutions.
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The salary prospects of a first level support agent tend to fall between $30,000 to $40,000. Some employers are also willing to reward better skills with a higher salary of up to $70,000.
How much does first level support make?
Looking to freelance as a support agent? You’re in luck! With the rise in digitalization across industries, hundreds of businesses are now setting up easy support systems. This makes the world of help desk support one of the largest employers of skilled freelancers.
On average, help desk support freelancers make $87/hour on freelancermap.com (as of October, 2019). Extrapolated to an 8 hour day, this equates to $696 per day.